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First Catholic “Mrs. Pakistan World” hopes to inspire women and fight radicalization

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Cerith Gardiner - published on 10/14/20

Ravish Zahid-Thomas can be an inspiration for many oppressed women in her native Pakistan and around the world.

This year, for the first time in the beauty pageant’s history, the winner of Mrs. Pakistan World is a Catholic — Ravish Zahid-Thomas. With this title comes an opportunity to change perceptions of women in a country where Christianity is a minority religion.

The beauty contest selects married women of Pakistani descent from around the world. Zahid, who was born in Lahore, is currently studying human resources at Texas University. Yet she has far greater ambitions:

I wanted to become Mrs. Pakistan World to show the world that Pakistani women are more than just being oppressed, conservative, and uneducated. I wanted to represent my home country Pakistan in all facets and show everyone that Pakistani women can also be cultured, morally strong, beautiful, intelligent, ambitious, and resilient,” she expressed in an interview with It’s South Asian.

Although 26-year-old Ravish is thousands of miles away from her home in Dallas, Texas, with her husband Drew Thomas, as the new Mrs. Pakistan World she will act as an ambassador for Pakistan throughout the world. Hopefully her presence in the media will inspire young women, especially in her native Pakistan, and choose a path where they follow their dreams while retaining all that is important as women of faith.

As her father shared in an interview with UCANews: “Youth always look for role models. So, I would hope that Ravish will be a role model for our Pakistani Christian girls, who often suffer from low self-esteem. Like Ravish, each girl has received talents and gifts from the Lord. Let her use them to spread light, hope and happiness. Our girls should take every opportunity to grow in knowledge and learn new skills.”

Zahid-Thomas’ selection this year is particularly important for young Pakistani women at a time when extremist groups are gaining ground and many are converting (sometimes by force) to Islam and foregoing not only their dreams, but their education.

The former Archbishop Lawrence Saldanha of Lahore shared with Zahid-Thomas’ father that a way to help fight against this form of radicalization would be to “make a big poster of Ravish Zahid calling on all women to stand on their feet and contribute to society. Put up the poster in all the schools and churches.”

With COVID-19 making travel more complicated, there’s hope that the new Mrs. Pakistan World can still become a glimmer of hope for not only Catholic women in oppressed countries, but for all young women to feel they have an opportunity to contribute to society in a meaningful way.

If you’d like to know a little more about some of Asia’s holy women, click on the slideshow below:

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Inspiring storiesPakistanWomen
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